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The 411: Youth

Unique help for future rural health practitioners

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April 5, 2011 | 1,384 views | Post a comment

Local access to medical care is not an urban luxury, but a basic service rural Texans should not be without. The trouble is it’s hard to find licensed health-care practitioners willing to practice in rural areas.

Fortunately, the Texas State Office of Rural Health offers the Outstanding Rural Scholar (ORS) Program, a forgiveness loan program that matches individuals who want to become licensed health-care professionals with rural community sponsors in need of dedicated health-care practitioners to serve in their communities.

The program pays tuition and living expenses for the duration of the student’s education. Because ORS is a forgiveness loan program, the cost of education is exchanged for paid service in the community upon licensure, which is another benefit of the program: a guaranteed paycheck after graduation.

In Texas, there are 177 eligible rural counties looking for individuals willing to make a commitment to a rural practice.

For example, La Grange Hospital and the Texas State Office of Rural Health paid for Noel Rios to go to school and become a radiology technician. Upon licensure, Noel returned to La Grange Hospital to work as an x-ray technician; he was paid a competitive wage for his services. After meeting his service obligation, he was free to go practice wherever he pleased, but chose to stay in La Grange, his hometown, and is an appreciated member of the community and hospital staff.

For 2011, the program currently has $300,000 available. This amount is subject to change without notice as grants are awarded. Sponsors may be located in any of Texas’ 177 rural counties. Individuals must pursue studies in an eligible health-care profession, agreed upon by their sponsor, including: medicine, dentistry, nursing, optometry, pharmacy, chiropractic, behavioral health, allied health, family practice, emergency medicine, general internal medicine, general pediatrics, general surgery, or general obstetrics and gynecology.

Application deadlines are the third Friday in May (fall semester); third Friday in September (spring semester); and the third Friday in January (summer semester). For more information, contact Ada Grant, Texas Department of Rural Affairs, at 512-936-6715 or visit

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